This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
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We’ve all heard it before: Social media is important for sales. But specifically, Instagram — with its focus on high-quality images and the aesthetic side of marketing — can take your product to new heights, if used correctly.
In fact, research compiled by Our Social Times discovered that engagement with brand posts from consumers is increasing at a rate faster than that at which brands are creating Instagram accounts. According to Sprout Social, the presence of brands on Instagram is up by 71 percent from last year, and as a result, 86 percent of all existing brands are now on the platform.
With 67 percent of all adults between the ages of 18 and 29 maintaining IG profiles and the number of users growing daily, Instagram marketing is a not-so-secret weapon for getting high-quality visuals and descriptions of benefits in front of target consumers.
Here are three key tips for harnessing its product-pushing powers:
1. Make products “shoppable”
One of the many reasons companies adore Instagram for marketing purposes is because of its “shop” feature. Say there’s a high-quality, multi-colored visual of a man wearing an attractive pair of running shoes. If an Instagram user wants to see how much the shoes cost or order them, the “shop” function in the photo permits this via a shopping-bag icon that converts to the title of the item and the price with a single click. That same icon can also directly take an Instagram user to the website where they can purchase the product.
Feature your products in stunning, brightly lit images as much as possible, and make sure to use a business account to take full advantage of the “shop” feature by tagging items in the photo when posting them. The success rate of this feature, of course, depends on a number of variables, but brands have reported sizable increases in product traffic, according to BigCommerce.
One such example is Native Union, a tech accessories company that reported a 100 percent increase in revenue from Instagram and a 2,662 percent increase in traffic from Instagram after only nine posts with the “shop” feature.
Another company featured in the same BigCommerce report, Spearmint LOVE, recommends taking to Instagram Stories to announce that your page is now using the “shop” feature with a brief consumer tutorial.
2. Experiment with different creative advertising tactics
Different creative tactics work well for different brands. Finding what works best for your brand on Instagram will take some trial and error, but seek to outperform yourself creatively.
Ryan Bartlett is the founder of True Classic Tees, an apparel company focused on offering the perfect plain T-shirt to consumers. Bartlett swears by Instagram and advises other product-focused companies to test at least 10 to 15 new types of creative advertising each month.
“Use a combination of video ads, testimonial ads and carousel ads,” he suggests. “If you can’t get video, photos still work great. Some of our best-performing ads are single-image ads which I never would have anticipated.”
In other words: Try a little bit of everything, assess analytics, then tweak and try again. And at the end of each month, conduct an analytics-assessment meeting with your team to determine which types of ads performed best. Then, create more content similar to these high-performers.
3. Show how to use your product
As long as you’re experimenting creatively, consider creating videos featuring your product in some way. For example, if your product requires some type of tutorial to use or understand (even a simple one), create engaging, well-lit video guides.
A big-name company that does a great job of this on Instagram is Lowe’s. In addition to the ocassional how-to, they also use visuals demonstrate how a home can quickly be improved with their products, such as a time-lapse displaying a house lit up with Christmas lights or a quick video showing the revamp of a porch, including the addition of rocking chairs, throw pillows and a new doormat.
These visuals spark ideas in consumers’ heads that take them past needing something and into genuinely wanting it. Use your business’ Instagram account to (ethically) build the desire to purchase in your audience.
Show consumers the ideal of how your product is used and what it can do for them — how it can improve the current quality of their lives. Even if purchasing your company’s new teapot set isn’t a current need, a short video presenting the reality of a cozy weekend — complete with your teapot set playing an important role, of course — can be all that’s needed to make a purchase happen.
Now’s the time….
The continuous implementation of the “shop” feature, experimentation with different ads to invoke action and showing consumers the use of your products will contribute to increased traffic from your Instagram account to your company’s website.
Get creative and have fun with this! This not-so-secret weapon will continue to come in handy as you diversify your product line, introduce new launches and demonstrate new, exciting uses as the year progresses.